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It’s hard work to create a list of every government body in the UK, here’s what we’ve found so far.
The public sector covers a vast range of organisations: central government, councils, courts, prisons, the NHS, schools, universities, quangos, social housing associations, port authorities, fisheries, and more. It seems as if the longer you spend investigating the public sector, the bigger it becomes!
There is no openly available list of all the UK’s public sector bodies. There are projects which aim at addressing this gap, for example Open Register’s Github account allows you to access and publish lists of public service bodies. The ONS’s Geoportal lists public sector bodies with geolocations, which has proved useful for parish councils and fire and rescue services. There are also websites with data on certain types of public sector bodies, for example recognised professional associations.
Devolution also complicates this picture. For example, Edubase covers schools, universities and colleges in England, but Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish educational establishments have their own sources. Privatisation is another complicating factor; academy trusts are registered as companies although the schools they run are still educational bodies. Sometimes these factors combine, for example in England social housing associations are often registered as both companies and charities, but in Scotland they are registered as charities and to a separate social housing register. To complicate things still further, some, but not all, of these social housing associations are also indexed on Open Register.
At OpenOpps.com, we’re working to link all of our data to legal entities, enabling us to fully understand the shape of public buying and spending in the UK. We are starting with London-based bodies and experimenting with Organicity to share our results and encourage engagement and collaboration.
Below are the public sector lists and registers we have found so far. We’ll add to it as we find more sources. If you have any data sources you think we should use, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Central and local government, social housing, quangos, prisons:
Fire and rescue services
Parish councils and town councils
Devolved national parks